DEADLINE EXTENDED: UNC Asheville Queer Studies Conference 2020 co-sponsored by Davidson College -- Fitting In, Sticking Out: Queer (In)Visibilities and the Perils of Inclusion

deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
UNC Asheville Queer Studies Conference co-sponsored by Davidson College
contact email: 

Call for Papers and Presentations 

UNC Asheville Queer Studies Conference

Co-sponsored by Davidson College

April 3-5, 2020



Fitting in & Sticking out: 

Queer (In)visibilities & the Perils of Inclusion


While some queer and trans folks celebrated the election of queer and trans candidates in the last campaign cycle, there is often an understanding in queer communities that representation in the halls of power will not necessarily lead to liberation. As the gay liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s forked into mainstream gay rights in the 1980s and 1990s, some political action shifted from radical confrontation with state violence towards demands for inclusion and equality. We’ve seen some progress in the protection of marginalized identities and lives with hate crime legislation and the “crowning achievement” of marriage equality. There may be more gay, lesbian, and trans people represented in movies, TV, and legislatures, but does that translate into safety for queer communities? Will a rainbow flag on a police car protect queer folks from a culture built around (trans)misogyny / misogynoir and sexual assault?


We are constantly reminded that our culture is still built on anti-black, anti-queer violence by the all too frequent murders of black transwomen, the further criminalization of queer sex workers, and the erasure of rural LGBTQ+ identities experiencing the pains of addiction, joblessness, and lack of resources. Today, we are at another fork in the road, where there is nominal acceptance of certain gay and lesbian identities (namely white, educated, middle-class families), while a wide range of experiences of people under the LGBTQ+ umbrella get forgotten. As queerness becomes hip and queer subcultural styles are being bought and sold, we must ask how the culture, lives, and sexuality behind the looks can survive and thrive. With the rise of global fascism, the impending doom of large-scale environmental collapse, and the inevitable next crash of capitalism, can we still envision a queerness that seeks liberation rather than admission to the status quo and benefits of a vastly unequal US society? How can we balance these visions with protecting the precarious lives most threatened by the current sociopolitical landscape?

Submit proposals online here!

Keynote Speakers

Wriply Bennet 

Wriply Marie Bennet is a proud, self-taught illustrator, activist/organizer born and raised in Ohio. Her art and organizing work started with the Trans Women of Color Collective and expanded in Ferguson when she and a few others were freedom riders traveling to stand with the family and community of Mike Brown. Wriply is also well known for an action held in Columbus, Ohio, during which she and 3 other black, queer, and trans folk (known as the black pride 4) were arrested while holding the community accountable for divisive actions against folks of color in the queer community.


Her art has been used in numerous social justice flyers, fundraisers, online gallery shows, city wide campaigns, and made its first film debut in (MAJOR!), a documentary at the 2015 San Francisco transgender film festival. 


Wriply’s keynote address will focus on divestment as one of the crucial next steps of queer liberation. 

Kay Barrett

A PBS News Hour featured poet, Campus Pride Hot List artist, Trans Justice Funding Project Panelist, and Trans 100 Honoree, Kay Ulanday Barrett is a poet, performer, and educator, navigating life as a disabled pilipinx-amerikan transgender queer in the U.S. with struggle, resistance, and laughter. 


A seasoned speaker, Kay has offered workshops, presented keynotes, and contributed to panels with various social justice communities. Kay’s ideas have featured in Race Forward & Colorlines, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, KPFA Radio, and WBAI Radio. Kay turns art into action and is dedicated to remixing recipes. Their book When The Chant Comes, was published this Fall 2016 by Topside Press. See their online wobble on social media as brownroundboi.


Kay’s keynote is titled When The Chant Comes: Poetry & Margins at the Center

Conference Dates: April 3-5, 2020  | Location: Asheville, North Carolina

Theme: Fitting in & Sticking out: Queer (in)visibilities & the Perils of Inclusion

EXTENDED Submission Deadline: October 5, 2019

Submit proposals online at:


The UNC Asheville Queer Studies Conference (established in 1998) attracts an international audience of activists, academics, community members, and artists who showcase a range of creative and scholarly pursuits related to the study of genders and sexualities. With this upcoming conference, we have a new co-sponsor relationship with Davidson College, who has given generous support.  We invite a diverse representation of approaches and participants, including academics (faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students) and community members (leaders, organizers, artists, activists). All presentation formats will be considered (see table below), and we welcome proposals in English and Spanish. All proposals will be confidentially reviewed by a panel of UNCA faculty and staff. 


A selection of the proceedings from this conference may be edited and submitted for consideration and publication as a book. We are working in connection with a publisher to shape a compelling and provocative grouping of essays to represent the current state of thinking on queer inclusion, representation, and confrontation. You may indicate your interest in being part of this publication when you submit your proposal.  


Detailed information about accommodations will be posted on our website. Although North Carolina has been in the news in recent years for the HB2 Bill, as well as its partial repeal, Asheville is known as an LGBTQIA-friendly place; in addition, UNC Asheville has a policy on“diversity and inclusion”  and there will be all-gender bathrooms accessible to conference spaces. Limited funding will be available to support attendance on a needs basis, up to but no more than $100 per person. Please indicate your need for support when you submit your proposal.


While we welcome proposals on any topic related to sexuality, gender, queer identities and themes, we especially invite presentations related to this year’s theme of representation, inclusion, resistance, and opposition. Elaborations on the theme might include (but are not limited to):

  • What do we give up to get a seat at the table? 

  • Which queer and trans folks are represented/visible in popular media and why? 

  • What can LGBTQ history teach us about the risks and/or benefits of “fitting in”? 

  • How can queer identities avoid commodification or appropriation? Should this be a goal?

  • How do LGBT people avoid tokenism in straight/cisgender businesses and organizations? 

  • Is outing a form of violence? Is being out an obligation or responsibility?

  • Can we truly create “safe” spaces? Who designates them as safe? Are queer and trans folks safe/safer in cities? Rural areas? In the closet? Out?

  • What are the limits of freedom possible for us within the current regime of settler colonialism, white supremacy, racial capitalism, and cisheteropatriarchy? 

  • Does visibility in (mental) health care reinforce stereotypes about queer and trans folks?

  • What is the difference between existence, resistance, and revolution? Do queer and trans folks resist or revolt simply by existing?

  • Is queerness inherently a threat to the nation state?

  • How does pride reinforce racial prejudice? Do corporations and police belong at pride events? 

  • Does queer engagement or leadership in wellness activities perpetuate inequality or open doors for participation by more folks with a variety of bodies and identities?

Registration fees 

includes breakfast, snacks and lunch



full-time faculty, other


graduate students,

contingent faculty,

non-profit professionals

undergraduate students, community members, unemployed or underemployed

Until March 1, 2020




After March 1, 2020




Single day pass (on site purchase)





Presentation Formats 

If you would like to present in a format not listed here, please email us at



Paper Presentation

Panel Presentation


Performance/ exhibition

Proposal limit

500 words

1000 words

1000 words

500 words plus any relevant audio/images, etc.


Paper presentations are limited to 15 minutes each, and will be placed into groups of 3 to 4 other papers by topic

Panel presentations are limited to 90 minutes and consist of 3-4 presenters

Workshops may range from 60-90 minutes and should provide attendees with new skills 

Performances can range from 15-90 minutes. Your proposal must specify the length and format of your performance, including any required space/ materials, etc.


Important dates and deadlines


Submission deadline

October 15, 2019

Notification of acceptance

November 1, 2019

Deadline to request travel support

March 1, 2020

Deadline to confirm your attendance (if you do not confirm by this date, your presentation will be removed from the program). Please note that presenters are not considered confirmed until they have registered for the conference.

March 1, 2020